Ptolemy:Black History month Bio ” The Darker or Lighter you are the less civilized your are”

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Claudius Ptolemaues


Claudius Ptolemaues or Ptolemy, is the one individual that said that the earth is in the center of the Universe. He was mathematician,astronomer, astrology and the list goes on.

Ptolemy was the author of several scientific treatises. He produced three treatise  that had a profound impact on Islamic and European science. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the  Almagest. The second  was more mathematical based. The third one focused on Geography, which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. Ptolemy’s treatises on Geography  had negative impact on the Islamic Scholars and the Mediterranean established schools of translation and learning centres in Baghdad in 9th century. Ptolemy lived about 600-700 years before of the Islamic scientific awakening. Why was his worked picked up and developed in the 9th Century in that specific area ? a good question that will be discussed in an another article when we discuss the scholars in our “Black History Month Bio” series.

One may Ask how did he influence beliefs of Islamic scholars and why should we include him in the BHM Bio series ? well the praised ancient philosopher was responsible for the xenophobic literature that found fertile ground in the Islamic world. Science is one of these fields where one era and the people discover ideas and then another group comes and further develops the idea. The best example is between Islam and the greek philosopher or the renaissance and Islam. Ptolmey’s ” seven latitudinal zone” theory  was the origin for these racist ideologies.

According to the Greek philosopher the world is divided into seven zones. Zone 1 being the closest to equator and zone 7 near the article circle. He then determine that there were ideal zones ( zone 3 and 4) corresponded to the Mediterranean lands. This lead him then to classify the inhabitants based on their intellect, mental physical appearance. The zone 3 and 4 were occupied by the most civilized and intelligent people. Now the interesting part comes the further north you went towards the Artic Circle or further south you went towards the equator both type people were regarded as subhuman, distorted mentally and physically. Now imagine the majority of people  scientific, religious, academic and political constitution would accepting this theory, most of Europe, Africa North and South America would fall under the category of subhuman.

This is so ironical Black people from the Sub-Sahran Zone 1 and the white people from zone 5,6,7 (North,West East, Europe and scandinavia) were regarded as savages with deviant lifestyles. The middle east being in zone 3,4 of course welcomed this idea. What is so ironical about theory is that in todays terms the most intelligent people were only two hours flight away from the subhuman. Especially Ptomely who was living in Alexandria.

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